Idle hands

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It was a warm summer night

We meandered along

Down familiar streets

Finally lying in a field of grass

A small park amidst a quiet neighborhood

We were restless as teen boys usually are

Itchy skin ready to slough off

To begin anew as men

We sat in a circle, cross legged

Joe pulling out his homemade pipe

Made from brass plumbing components

He said the strain was called Buddha

It was one hit shit

Five minutes later

I’m marveling at how hands are constructed

Opposable thumbs are the shit

Joe said he wanted to guide us

To open us up as conduits

For inhabitation

He had the three of us lie on our backs

Arms out at our sides

In a velvety, therapist monotone he said:

You are completely relaxed

You are a pathway

Let the demons enter your right hand

Travel through your body

Exiting from your left foot

He repeated this over and over

I stifled my laughter

Opening my eyes just a sliver

I watched the new kid in our group

He started off twitching almost imperceptibly

In the matter of about five minutes

He looked like he was having a seizure

I glanced over at Mike, Joe’s brother

He had that shit-eating grin of his

Later me and Mikey lied

Saying we felt an almost electrical current

Running through our veins

Continuing on with our walk

Jonesing for a smoke

We’d all rifled through every pocket

Coming up short for the $1.25

Joe says how great a smoke would be

A few steps further

He stops in his tracks

Eyelids fluttering

Mouthing words from an unknown language

A smile creeps across his face

He slips his hand into the pocket of his jeans

He pulls out a five dollar bill

Praise be to Bael

We start walking

Joe in the lead, as usual

I look over to Mike

He rolls his eyes

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Absolute Zero

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They both worked at the factory

He was full time

She was a temp

Their journey started

At an after work get together

Drinks, music, and dancing

A connection was made

He left his wife and kids to be with her

She was a single mother looking for stability

Whirlwind romance

0 – 60 in 3.4 seconds

Coworkers loved the joy they exuded

He felt younger being with her

She was tired of youthful foolishness

She took him to all her haunts

They bonded over beers and blues

At work they smiled, knowingly

They had something worthwhile

Shift’s end couldn’t come quick enough

They could taste the beers already

He felt proud to have her by his side

She flaunted him to her usual suitors

With glass raised and a wink

Soon he wanted more

Cohabitation and a drawer of cold ones

She wanted more of the same

Clinking bottles and loud music

Even after pressuring her she refused

He wouldn’t give up on her

He followed her from bar to bar

He became a downer and a buzzkill

She wanted the endless night

And the bottomless glass

When she rebuked him a final time

Surrounded by her cohorts

His pleas to leave drowned out

He staggered out into the night

The streetlights haloed with flurries

A sad, crooked trail of footsteps

Left in the freshly fallen snow

The next day he never showed at work

Soon after he was found, frozen

On a wooded trail

That led to his lonely apartment

When the shivering stopped

Everything began winding down

Breathing slowed

Brain activity decelerated

The tears froze on his cheeks

He had given up everything for her

In the end he was an absolute zero

Reblogging

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Okay, okay, okay. I have absolutely no idea why I haven’t reblogged before. I think I reached a certain point, of having a handful of my posts on my feed, and started to think reblogging at that point would affect the continuity. Now, I’ve been at this for 3 years and I wouldn’t have found as many wonderful writers if some of you hadn’t been so gracious as to reblog me. It’s that simple. So, I’m planning on dipping my toes into the reblog pool. I feel kinda bad, as I know that, although I’ve liked and commented on many great posts, there were many that were more than deserving of a reblog, and for that…I’m sorry.

Thank you, to all you fantastic rebloggers, and here’s to giving back!

The Abyss

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“…And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” Nietzsche

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

In the matter of a week and a half two friends, former coworkers, had taken their lives; a ripple of sadness passed through what used to be a close-knit family, one that has been cast to the four winds, nomads, since they closed the plant a couple years ago; Facebook is all a flutter, as everyone is trying to make sense of this tragedy and offering to be a sympathetic ear for those in need; and I’m just crying; when “Bob” committed suicide about two weeks ago there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it; as he had recently gotten a better job and appeared to be happy; well…he always appeared to be happy; he was the guy that you never felt the urge to avoid, that you always had a nice conversation with, as he was soft-spoken and was rarely ever without his smile; though rumor has it he has fought periodic depression for quite some time; he has been in an on-again-off-again relationship with another friend/former coworker that he has a daughter with, but whatever the reason(s) he had he found it necessary to hang himself with copper wire in his garage; and I found myself wanting, no needing to know what was going through his mind as he stood at the abyss’ edge; I don’t know if this need stems from morbid curiosity, the writer and student of human behavior that resides within or because I have been near the abyss’ edge before and needed to know just how far down this rabbit-hole goes–how much worse can it get before one takes action; whatever the reason the idea was always lurking there like the shadow behind every sunny-day thought; then a few days later my wife called me while I was on the return trip from North Carolina and told me that “Mark” had killed himself; as I was with my father-in-law and sister-in-law I bottled and buried all reaction to this news; but once I was home it started to hit me harder and harder in waves and I began going back over all of Mark’s Facebook posts; it was as if each one was a scream for help; the most recent post had seemed darkly poetic, as it spoke of the woman he lost; she held him in her arms; his cheek against her chest; lips pressed together; his need to be with her is paramount; his eyes grow heavy; he is sorry; I had lumped this post in with all of the other dark/depressing/vengeful/lamenting/antagonistic posts he had made forever, but with 20/20 hindsight it couldn’t have been any clearer to me; a captioned picture of him laying with his dog on the couch, “at least someone cares about me,” and another post asking all of his contacts to tell him something good about him; a one sentence response to Bob after his passing, “I feel you but you could’ve called me bro,” and the more I read and re-read these posts the more I despised myself for not seeing the signs before it was too late; where I once needed to know what Bob had been thinking, I found myself overcome with the raw pain of hopelessness and loneliness I knew Mark must have felt at the end; I was there at the abyss’ edge with the ghost of a friend and the familiarity of the abyss washed over me; I had to shake it but I couldn’t; we had babysat his now four fatherless children; I had given him rides when his car was broke down; I had told him in an IM when he looked for validation on Facebook that he was a good man and that I had a great amount of respect for him; it took me two days to get to the point where I wouldn’t just break down crying at the mere thought of him or at the latest Facebook posts; I had gotten closer to the abyss’ edge than I ever had before, but I learned a valuable lesson, that I remain unbroken…perhaps even stronger having faced those demons; the deep lows and the amazing highs give me the breadth of reference that not only makes me who I am, but allows me to bleed upon these pages unabashedly; life goes on;

Soapbox

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Your very perception of yourself can be fallible. To see faults where none exist. To magnify the smallest of imperfections to caricature extremes. Body dysmorphia becomes your own personal hell. Powerful insecurities astigmatize the minds eye. The same can be said about the content of ones character. The villain is the hero in their own book. The asshole feels justified. The you, that you share with the world, is rarely the real you. Your public you is based on the faulty perception of what society deems acceptable. Who is society? A bunch of other insecure, distorted reality viewing, pretenders. All of us falling prey to the shiny objects that are meant to fill the void. The latest cellphone, the MK purse, the new car. We work longer hours, missing the ones we love, so we can buy these diversions. Keep your eye on the prize. In this way you won’t notice your deteriorating spiritual connection to Mother Earth and your fellow man. Love. Compassion. Empathy. Not just for everyone else or the natural world, but for yourself. For me there is one undeniable fact…we are ALL ONE. NOT…we are ALL ALONE. We are all one.

Immortality

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Most of us, if not all, are afraid of what comes next…the big next.  Now, I’m not going to get mired down in a philosophical treatise on the afterworld or reincarnation, rather I am going to center on the simple act of leaving the life you know behind.  Death waits for us all, whether we want it to or not.  We worry about the state of our affairs, “who’s gonna support my loved ones, who’s gonna take out the garbage on Monday night,” and so forth.  The question that burns the deepest is, “how long before I am completely forgotten?”  At least if I am remembered, in some way, then I live on.

Those of us that blog, do so for certain reasons, like catharsis, or sharing beautiful moments, or introspection and trying to understand what it is to be human…reaching out with this to say that we are not alone.  We read the words of others to experience their human condition and to see not only what makes us different, but what unifies us as well.  Beneath all that, I think, that we yearn for immortality through our words.  Many of the bloggers I see have already published books, and in that alone deserve our respect and gratitude for adding to the chronicles, while some of us (yes me) are still finding our voice with hopes of one day writing the next Great American Novel.  Is that too much to ask?  If I can string the right words together, in the right sequence, I can live forever.  It’s wizardry.  We are trying to cast a spell, but if we do it wrong we could find ourselves lost in the oblivion.

This carries a lot of weight.  I have always allowed fear, more specifically the fear of failure, to paralyze me into inaction.  If I do nothing then I haven’t failed yet and the possibility of success is still there, but if I try and fail then the dream dies.  Now with age comes wisdom and I have learned at the intellectual level that this is false, that we learn from our failures and can always try again, but at the subconscious level I am still scared shitless.  A prime example of this fear induced paralysis was, for me, going to college.  I didn’t go right out of high school.  I went to work through temp agencies, at warehouses and factories and found myself having nervous breakdowns that bubbled up when I would think, “is this my life, am I stuck?”  I had always wanted to go to college, but the fear told me that if I go and I flunk out, then factories and warehouses will be all that’s left for me.  It took every ounce of my resolve to fill out the paperwork, but in the end…I flourished.  I loved it.  I wish I could be a career student to this day.  Now I won’t get into the irony that I am now employed at a factory in a managerial position, as it would change the tone of this entirely.  Rather, I am going to talk about hope.

As most of you know, I am now the proud father of a beautiful almost-five-month-old son.  Now, as much as he can serve as a wondrous distraction, he has also given me my immortality (at least that’s how I see it).  He looks so much like me that it’s like having a window into my own infancy.  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of my future self sending my current self a letter that not only explains what’s coming, but the right decisions to make to get there…perhaps this’ll be a future post.  Now I know this concept seemed a fantasy, but it will happen…not for me, but for my son.  I am the letter from his future and hopefully with my help he can make the right decisions and avoid certain pitfalls.  Okay end of tangent.  This newfound immortality means that it isn’t all riding on me becoming the next Stephen King.  I can begin to write with a sense of insouciance.  The weight has been lifted, by the hands of a 17 pound, almost-five-month-old mini-me.

So, watch out world…here I come!  Right after I change his diaper and I figure out a new way to  make him smile and laugh.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I started a new job about a month ago and I’m really enjoying the change of pace, the learning/growth opportunities and having moved out of the food manufacturing sector and into electrical component manufacturing sector. I’m on 1st shift, which is great, but would be better if my wife wasn’t working 2nd, as I don’t see her all week. 

Today I erased a handful of social media apps off my phone, including Facebook. I truly feel giddy with liberation or, perhaps, it’s low level anxiety at losing that outlet/connection. I’m not entirely sure. 

I quit those apps to be more present when spending time with my son and to hopefully spur more creativity. The only social apps I kept are writing/creativity related. I’m keeping this short, so raise your glasses for a toast to change and to creativity! 

If anyone has done the same or similar…don’t hesitate to comment on how it went!

I’m radioactive!

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Standing in the back aisle of the local Kmart, I came across a test kit for determining if your microwave is leaking.  My first thought was, holy crap…my microwave could be irradiating my beautiful single-wide trailer, with me and my miniature schnauzer included!  My second thought was, I wonder if I concentrate really hard if I can get this little tester to light right up.  Stay with me…this is how my mind works.

I picked the tester up, it had a shiny black surface, like vinyl.  The packaging showed an ominous radioactive symbol, a bright red, right in the middle of the area that now appeared black.  Apparently the tester detects the microwaves and the symbol appears, like magic…like finding a pure white, wooly caterpillar–foretelling of a long hard winter, but in this case sterility and bleeding gums.  Again, the idea of concentrating my mental energies on this tester, to bring the symbol out of the black depths had goose bumps running up my neck.

I clutched the tester in both hands, pinched between thumbs and pointer fingers, like someone reading a winning lottery ticket for the fifth time.  I concentrated on the area where the symbol should be, my eyes almost crossing.  I held it about six inches from my face.  Five seconds in and I swear I could see a ghost image of the symbol, like the lady of the lake rising from the depths–the sword represented my newfound psychic abilities. My pulse quickened.

If such a thing is possible…I concentrated harder, spurred on by the ghost image.  My eyes were slits and perspiration beaded on my forehead.  The faintest pink pulsed within the specter and what was once faint began to take form and showed clearly distinct lines.  My eyes widened as the symbol took full form–a phoenix from the ashes.  My heart pounded.  I glanced around to see if there was a witness.  I stood alone.  I frantically flipped the package over and read the small print.  What were the repercussions?

My eyes quickly scanning the fine print.  A bowl.  A bowl of water is placed in the microwave.  The water boils.  The boiling water creates heat.  Heat.  The tester measures heat.  Heat?!?  My fingers pinching the tester right where it’s affected by heat.  My shoulders slumped.  I was once again a normal citizen.  No longer a member of the mutant brotherhood.  I chuckled nervously to myself, wondering where this placed me on the MMPI.

Affirmations 


I suffer from the same crippling self-doubt most writers do. I can, also, find myself falling into a complaining vortex. I have toyed with the idea of affirmations, of getting up early and looking at myself in the mirror, and saying, “Erich, you are a writer with a story to share that people will want to read!” And, I’ll rewire my brain and quickly ascend the world of the literati. Anyway…I could never do it consistently. Soooo, I used the calendar app on my iPhone and created events throughout my day–reminders of how good life really is and how I am meant to write. I read the event when it pops up, I whisper it aloud to myself and I smile. 

Here’s to a better me! If you like the idea, of course feel free to do the same, but let me know how it goes or what types of affirmations you might use, as I could always use more. 🙂

Happy writing!

Closer to Home, Father I Roam pt. 2 


In an earlier post, Closer to Home, Father I Roam, I talked about the loss of my father. I talked about our relationship, about his being supportive of my writing and how his passing affected me.

I talked about how I am embarking on an inward journey, in attempts to better understand him, creating some of the same neural connections…through reading the same books he had read. He left a map of his adventures–his Nook reader and a library of titles. 

I picked The Shannara Trilogy and was not disappointed. I’ll be the first to admit that I moved through the first two books slowly. It was as if I was subconsciously coming up with excuses to not buckle in and read, at least not nearly as often as I had in the past. However, I did really enjoy them, as they are definitely in a genre that I love. Now I’m not going to do anything close to an in depth book review, but simply say how the journey went and what I took away from it. 

I’m currently about 100 pages away from finishing the third book. I take it with me to work and inevitably I end up going down an internet-search-wormhole and make no use of my breaks, whatsoever. Irritated with myself I’ll return to work, vowing to read the next time. Some part of me doesn’t want the story to end, just like I wish my father’s story was still going on, I guess. 

My takeaway, at this point, is simply my seeing a parallel between my father and the Druid Allanon. He wasn’t really there at the beginning and until later in life he was kind of a mysterious figure that moved in and out of my life. Most importantly, he gave me my love for reading, which blossomed into writing and is the most powerful magic I know. 

I will try to push through the last 100 pages and then see what’s next. I hope to report back on this pilgrimage. I miss him sorely, but these breadcrumbs I’m following will not only bring about a deeper understanding, but will also take time…putting me closer to him in a more final way. 

To me, sharing a book with someone is probably one of the most intimate things you can do. It was, for a time, a life you lived and now, through your actions, they share that life. Share your lives with those you care about, my friends.